The other week came the surprise announcement that filmmaker Alex Garland’s sci-fi feature “Annihilation” would be going straight to Netflix in basically every country bar the United States, Canada and China, and that the film would premiere on the service in foreign markets (bar China) just seventeen days after it opens in cinemas in those three aforementioned countries.
Even more eyebrow raising though was the revelation as to the cause – a dispute between producers David Ellison and Scott Rudin. After test screening responses to the film called it “too intellectual” and “too complicated,” Ellison wanted to change the film’s challenging ending and soften Natalie Portman’s lead character. Rudin and Garland stuck to their guns and ultimately won their fight to keep the film intact, but at the price of the movie not getting a theatrical run overseas.
Garland has previously expressed disappointment over the Netflix deal and now has spoken to Indiewire about the producer feud, saying:
“I completely ignore that aspect of it. The way I approach these things is with transparency. I never bulls–t f–king anybody about what my intention is. I say, ‘Here is the script, the script is not a pretend script, it’s the actual script. Here are some visuals, too.’ The way I see it from that point is that if they agree to make the film, then it becomes like a contract. Importantly, that contract is not open to being broken later. There’s a creative agreement. If people do have a problem, and that’s fine if they do, but the time to express that is early, not late.”
Garland also hopes that audiences can experience the film as fresh as possible, without spoilers, as it contains a bunch of surprises that will challenge pre-conceptions of the genre:
“If it was up to me, I would know nothing about the film. But that’s just unrealistic, isn’t it? The only thing I get nervous about usually relates to the last third of the film. I’ve many times sat in a cinema and felt like, ‘Well I now know what’s coming. I know exactly what’s going to happen from the beginning to the end of this movie.’ I find it strange how much studios reveal sometimes. You want it to be like when you’re watching television late at night, and suddenly something comes on you had no idea was about to and you’re hooked. You’re like, ‘Wow, what is this?’ That’s what I want ‘Annihilation’ to feel like.”
“Annihilation” opens Febraury 23rd in North America and China and is expected on Netflix everywhere else in mid-March.